Friday, February 18, 2005

Role of Urdu in Indian Freedom Struggle

Urdu played a very important role in the freedom struggle of India. The electrifying speeches delivered by some of our prominet leaders like Gandhiji, Pandit Nehru and Maulana Azad, were in Urdu. The slogan that used to echo in the whole country - "Inquilab - Zindabad" has nothing but two words in Urdu. These two simple words were enough to bring about a powerful "revolution".

The sher,

"Sarfaroshi ki tamanna ab hamarey dil mein hai
Dekhna hai zor kitna bazu-e-qaatil mei hai "

was recited by our martyrs like Ram Prasad Bismil and Ashfaq Ullah Khan while they happily welcomed their death sentence.

Urdu journalism was the basic media that used to regulate the struggle for independence. The sheer number of Urdu publications during the Indian Freedom struggle can speak for it. Following newspapers and magazines were started to support the freedom struggle- Khilafat, Siasat, Ujala, Taj, Roznama-e-Hind, Ajmal, Hilal, Milap, Partap, Tej, Qaumi Awaz, Jung, Anjam, Inqualab, Nawa-e-Waqt, Hindustan, Aftab, Jumhuriat, Nadeem, Iqbal, Asr-e-Jadeed, Azad-e-Hind, Sandesh, Vakeel, Khidmat, Musalman, Azad, Paswan Weer Bharat and Al-Jamiath. Even Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru started Qaumi Awaz from Lucknow in 1945. The reason would surely been his awareness of the fact that Urdu was a language of the masses of the country. The names like Milap, Partap, Tej and Sandesh tell a lot about the universal acceptance of Urdu as a language of all, irrespective of community. It was not considered a language of Muslims. Urdu was born in the army barracks of the Mughals. Urdu means lashkar (a conglomeration of people from various backgrounds).

Post-Independence, a lot of these Urdu newspapers ceased to exist. The reasons were -

  • The Primary Objective i.e. Freedom from British rule, was achieved
  • The Partition
  • Urdu being branded as a language of Muslims
  • Call for suppressing Urdu and Urdu Press

  • Even after that, Urdu didn't disappear from the country. It continued to give pleasure of expression to those who sought it. Urdu newspapers in the Post-Independence era are - Siasat, Inquelab, Salar, Urdu Times, Munsif, Rehnuma-e-Deccan, Awam, Azad Hind, Akhbar-e-Mashriq, Rashtriya Sahara (Urdu), Nai Duniya weekly/ Awam daily, Qaumi Awaz and Akhbar-e-Nau.

    Some prominent dailies that closed down after the Independence were Qaumi Jung, Nazim and Aeilan (Rampur), Mazdoor Vahini (Kanpur), Noor-e-Bareilly (Kanpur), Dukhti Rag (Kanpur), Subh-e-Awadh (Gorakhpur), Alas-Subh (Lucknow), Ghazi Sandesh (Bahraich), Garaj, Aina-e-Alam and Moonis (Moradabad), Mishal-e-Azadi (Aligarh), Sardar Times (Azamgarh), Safeer (Etawah) and Siyasat Doot (in Farrukhabad).

    During my childhood, we used to get Qaumi Awaz in our home in Lucknow. But now, it has disappeared from the scene. Perhaps, in those days , it must have been continuing to be published from Lucknow. Maulana Abdul Waheed Siddiqui started ‘Nai Duniya’, which is still publishing under the editorship of his son Shahid Siddiqui. Today, it is one of the famous Urdu weekly in India. Sahara Group also publishes ‘Rashtriya Sahara (Urdu)’ which is the most popular Urdu daily of North India published from Delhi, Lucknow and Gorakhpur. Recently they have also started a weekly called ‘Aalmi Sahara’.

    The possible reasons behind the closure of so many Urdu Newspapers and also the reasons for their poor performance could be -

  • Low wages

  • Low Income through Print Advertisements

  • Costly set-up for Urdu Printing Press

  • Lack of computer skilled man power in Urdu

  • Escalation of per unit cost, resulting from low circulation

  • Last but most important: Diminishing number of Readers
  • The Panacea for Revival
    Now-a-days, children aren't taught to read Urdu until quite late, even in muslim families in India. When they learn Urdu at a higher age, they aren't as comfortable reading as they are with English and Hindi. Therefore, the ultimate remedy for revival is that Urdu, as a language, be introduced in the curricula of all Urdu-speaking states of India. Urdu should also be introduced as an optional language in CBSE schools following NCERT syllabus so that children have an option or a choice to choose a language. Let's give them an option and leave the rest of it on the Shireeni (sweetness) of Urdu.

    ~ Qais


    Manzoor Khan said...

    Qais bhai,

    This is a very neat narration of the state of Urdu press is the country today.

    Good work!
    ~~ Manzoor Khan

    Yasmin said...

    I never expected to have people dedicating blogs for Urdu language. I am really glad to see one. It is awareness that is required to let people of India realize the that Urdu is their language - An INDIAN language... it represents secularism. It is sad to see that many think Urdu is a foreign language.

    Averros said...

    An interesting and well written post, but think carefully about the transition our world is moving towards. Urdu, Arabic, Sanskrit, Persian - all these languages have had their heydays and now it is the time of English that dominates. It is unfortunate that we are slowly losing out on Urdu awareness, but is that REALLY such a bad thing? The 'ultimate remedy' that you speak of can at best be termed wishful thinking, because in this era of globalization putting such an idea into reality will require massive infrastructural changes and even if successful put the Urdu graduate at a disadvantage in the modern world if he doesn't know his english well.

    Anonymous said...

    Saare jahan main dhoom hamari zuban ki hai

    Imran siddique said...

    The points you made above are very interesting. But I do not completely agree with you that urdu daily newspaper have vanished for eg.we still have papers like Avadhnama Mumbai